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February 12, 2024

Bridging the Gap: A Strategic Approach to Evaluating and Addressing Skills Gaps in the New Year

The New Year is in full swing, and we are already well into the first quarter of 2024. This is often the time of year when employers embark on a journey of evaluating their workforce and identifying potential areas for improvement. One crucial aspect of this evaluation is the assessment of skills gaps – the disparity between the skills the employee possesses and those required for their role (and their potential future roles). Let’s explore the importance of recognizing skills gaps and strategies to bridge them, fostering a more skilled, successful, and engaged workforce.

What Do We Mean by Skills Gaps?

A skills gap is the inability of a person to perform critical tasks due to a lack of knowledge, abilities, or competencies. Common employee skills gaps include hard skills (like technical know-how) and soft skills (like active listening).

According to Wiley’s Closing the Skills Gap report released on January 24, 2023, “Sixty-nine percent of HR professionals surveyed say they are experiencing a skills gap at their company, creating staffing challenges and the need to reskill employees, up from 55% in a similar survey in 2021.

The Association for Talent Development surveyed 316 organizations to create its 2022 Skills Gap Report. According to the report, the three most common skills gaps among employees are:

  1. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  2. Managerial and supervisory skills
  3. Communication and interpersonal skills

Why Should an Organization Evaluate Skills Gaps?

Recognizing and addressing skills gaps is vital for several reasons:

  • Increased Efficiency and Productivity: Employees equipped with the right skills are more efficient and productive in their roles, contributing to overall organizational success.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Addressing skills gaps demonstrates a commitment to employee growth and development, leading to increased job satisfaction, greater engagement, and employee loyalty.
  • Agility and Adaptability to Change: In a rapidly evolving business landscape, identifying skills gaps allows organizations to adapt to industry changes and stay ahead of the competition.

Identifying Skills Gaps

Before addressing skills gaps, it’s crucial to identify them accurately. This involves a thorough analysis of the skills required for current and future roles within the organization. Some effective methods for identifying skills gaps include:

  • Conduct a task and position needs assessment: Analyze current job descriptions and ensure skills, knowledge, and abilities needed for the role are clearly identified.
  • Employee Self-Assessment: Encourage employees to self-assess their skills and identify areas where they feel they need improvement.
  • Performance Reviews/360 Reviews: Incorporate skills assessments into regular performance reviews to gauge employees’ proficiency in key areas.
  • Industry Benchmarking: Compare your organization’s skill requirements with industry benchmarks to ensure alignment with industry standards.

Addressing Skills Gaps

Once skills gaps are identified, the next step is to implement strategies to address them. Here are some effective approaches:

  • One-on-One Coaching: Provide personalized coaching sessions to employees, focusing on specific skills that need improvement. This tailored approach can be highly effective in addressing individual needs and can be done with internal coaches (if trust is there) or with an external coach or 3rd party with expertise that targets those areas.
  • Group Training Sessions: Conduct group training sessions to address common skills gaps among multiple employees. This fosters collaboration and creates a supportive learning environment and can be done with an internal trainer or with a 3rd party. Some training for example- DEIB or Harassment training, is generally more effective if facilitated by an external trainer. 
  • Skill Development Programs: Implement skill development programs that offer resources, workshops, and online courses. This allows employees to upskill at their own pace, catering to diverse learning preferences. Learning management systems or LMS are great tools for onboarding new employees and creating modules for learning.  

Evaluating and addressing skills gaps is a strategic initiative that significantly impacts employees’ and the organization’s success. By prioritizing upskilling throughout the year, businesses can cultivate a more skilled, adaptable, and engaged workforce. Investing in your employees’ growth is an investment in their success, the success of your organization, and the success of the broader community.

What are you doing to address the skills gaps in your organization? We would love to hear from you.

MeChelle Callen
MeChelle Callen
MeChelle Callen is a Collaborator with Purple Ink. She is passionate about nurturing inclusive workplaces that empower employees and elevate organizational success through a foundation of belonging and empathy.

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